The Washington Post

Prince George’s, Md., police catch Twitter flak over plan to live-tweet prostitution stings

Starting next week, Maryland’s Prince George’s County Police Department will be live-tweeting prostitution stings. “From the ads to the arrests, we’ll show you how the PGPD is battling the oldest profession,” the announcement says.

The move, which the police department in the suburbs of Washington termed a “progressive … unprecedented social media tactic,” was announced Thursday in a blog post, and tweeted with the above photo of a woman being led away in handcuffs, prompting outrage and confusion about the operation, which the department says targets customers, not sex workers.

“Shame and arrest often only perpetuates peoples entrapment in prostitution or sex work, as research has shown, by creating a revolving door of incarceration, and there is little to no evidence that they end demand,” Cyndee Clay, executive director of HIPS, a D.C.-based organization that works with sex workers, told Sky News. “In response to the police department’s decision, HIPS will live tweet a day of service at its D.C. center and a night on its outreach van, which connects sex workers with counseling, HIV and hepatitis C testing and other safe sex materials,” WTOP reported.

The police department’s media relations director Julie Parker responded on Twitter saying that the sting was aimed at customers, not at the sex workers. Late last night a clarification was posted on the department’s blog. But the backlash continued:



Police departments just can’t seem to get this social media thing right. Just last week, the New York City Police Department caught major flak for their #myNYPD social media campaign. The call for citizens to tweet photos with members of NYPD resulted instead in Twitter being flooded with pictures of police roughing people up. It looks like PGPD’s plans for naming and shaming people who pay for sex are another #FAIL.

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Don’t be ‘that’ sports parent | On Parenting
Miss Manners: The technology's changed, but the rules are the same
A flood of refugees from Syria but only a trickle to America
Play Videos
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
Kids share best advice from mom
Using Fitbit to help kids lose weight
Play Videos
This man's job is binge-watching for Netflix
Transgender swimmer now on Harvard men's team
Portland's most important meal of the day
Play Videos
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
The signature drink of New Orleans
Next Story
Terrence McCoy · May 2, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.